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Gartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT)

JPMorgan Ultimate Services Conference

November 9, 2011 2:00 p.m. ET

Executives

Craig Safian - Group Vice President, Global Finance and Corporate Development

Brian Shipman - Group Vice President, Investor Relations

Analysts

David Lewis - JPMorgan

David Lewis - JPMorgan

Good afternoon. My name is Dave Lewis. I work on the information services team here at JPMorgan. It’s my pleasure to introduce the Gartner team. To my far right is Craig Safian and to my near right is Brian Shipman. Craig is Group VP of Global Finance and Corporate Development and Brian is Group Vice President of Investor Relations. Craig has been at Gartner for about nine years and Brian about one year. Gartner is the leading technology research provider. They host the world’s largest IT conference every year called the Symposium IT Expo. And with that Craig you can give us brief presentation. Thank you.

Craig Safian

Great. Thanks, Dave. Good afternoon, everyone. As Dave mentioned my name is Craig Safian and I have responsibility at Gartner for running our global finance team, strategic planning and corporate development. I am going to give you a quick five minute little overview on Gartner. We’re going to let Dave ask us some questions and then open it up to the group here. Brian Shipman to my left here will join in and help answer any of those questions.

So over the next several minutes I hope to give you really three major points about Gartner. First, how we deliver value to our clients; second, how we think about that strategy for growth; and third, how that value and that strategy has translated into our historical results and also how it translates into our long-term objectives. But before we dive into the details, I just want to give you a quick thumbnail sketch about Gartner.

So Gartner is the best source for clients to determine how and when to use IT in supply chain management to accomplish their objectives. We deliver our value really for three different but related businesses. First is our research business which is by far our largest and most profitable business. In research we sell subscriptions, annual, sometimes multiyear but annual at a minimum. Recurring revenue, negative working capital business.

Our second business is consulting, which the way to think about that is it’s really an extension of our research business. It’s targeted at helping our largest clients. When the need more hands on help then they can actually get from reading a research report or talking to an analyst. And our third business is our events business which Dave just alluded to. The events business really brings our research to life and we do that through -- over 50 conferences that we deliver around the world. And interestingly, at our businesses, the main attraction is Gartner’s intellectual property and getting access to Gartner’s analysts.

Couple of other key stats about Gartner. And these are based on our 2011 guidance that we updated last week. So we expect 2011 revenues between $1.455 billion and $1.485 billion, which will reflect growth rate of 12% to 15% over the prior year. Our EBITDA is growing at a faster rate than revenue, in fact we have been very focused on expanding our EBITDA margins and we expect to expand them again in 2011 by about 100 basis points. We consistently deliver free cash flow in excess of our net income and we are a very global business.

We do business in greater than 70 countries around the world and more than 40% of our revenues are derived from clients outside of the U.S. and Canada. So that’s a quick little sketch on who we are. I want to quickly double click in terms of how we deliver value. So the first thing we need to focus on from a value perspective is creating extraordinary research content. That drives the value in our research business, the value on our consulting business and the value in our events business.

We have to make sure also that that research content is independent and objective. We have go the broadest set of analysts in the industry. We’ve got over 775 analysts spread out across the globe that cover every area of technology you can imagine. And that critical mass of analysts coupled with their access to key IT decision makers around the world and key technology providers around the world, that allow us to create this depth and breadth of research that is really unmatched and unrivalled in the industry.

If you pick any topic within research. A hot topic or disruptive technology like cloud, social or context based networking, or even mundane topics like ERP systems, virtualization etcetera. Pick any of those and odds are you can find a host of analysts within Gartner that can actually help you navigate that terrain. In an environment and a profession that is continuously evolving and very complex, Gartner remains the best and most cost effective resource for IT professionals and supply chain professionals to use, to help make decisions that will make them -- that will drive either success of failure.

When I think about the value prop in quick terms, really think about it in four different ways. We save our clients time, they don’t have to go do their own searches, they don’t have to look for information themselves. We save our clients money both in terms of -- the don’t need to hire more resources and we can actually help them identify what good deals look like. We save then resources as I just mentioned. They don’t need to actually build up a staff. They almost have an adjunct staff that the can call on and we give them confidence. Those are really the four elements of our value proposition.

From a strategy perspective, our strategy over the last several years has been wildly consistent and has been really centrally focused on growing the research business. So why research? As I mentioned, it’s our largest business. It’s our most profitable business. But it also has an enormous untapped market opportunity which I am sure Dave will ask us some questions about later.

We estimate the market opportunity at about $45 billion. And we have confidence in that number for a couple of reasons. Number one, IT is really central to every geography, every type of business. We sell to commercial enterprises, we see to not for profit enterprises, we sell to public sector enterprises. We sell to very big clients, we sell to very small clients. And we sell our stuff all over the world. We are really agnostic and I think technology is agnostic in terms where we can plug-in to help drive businesses.

The second reason why we are so focused on driving the research business are the economics. It’s a -- as I mentioned a recurring revenue business. Very high renewal rates and the cash flow attributes of it are phenomenal. It is a negative working capital business where we typically build the client upfront annually, collect the money upfront and then deliver the services over the balance of the year.

Our research strategy, our growth for research is really focused on five elements which we have talked about a lot. Number one is creating extraordinary research insight which we talked about. Second is building a strong sales capability. And I want to double click on that one for a minute because that’s probably been the place where we have spent the most money and devoted the most energy from a management perspective.

Because of the enormous market opportunity, we believe the biggest things standing between us in going after that market opportunity is appropriate sales coverage. So we have been growing our sales force at a fairly rapid rate. Or long-term target and goal for growing our sales force is to continue to grow our sales force at a clip of 15% to 20% per year to after that market opportunity and we will continue to do that. Through the third quarter, we are actually up 18% year-over-year in our direct quota bearing sales recourses and we believe we will continue to invest in those.

Third element of the research strategy is delivering high value differentiated offerings. For those of you who have followed us for a little while we have really moved our -- rearchitectured our product portfolio to be more role focused. We now have products that are targeted towards different roles within the IT organization, the CIO, different direct reports of the CIO, different direct reports of the direct reports of the CIO and so on. Fourth element is ensuring we provide world calls service. Wherever you are in the world, we want to make sure that you get connected to the right analyst at the right time when you have an issue.

And then fifth is continuously improving through operational effectiveness. We never rest from an improvement and innovation perspective. We are always looking for ways to continue and improve our productivity, our efficiency, and optimize our results. And we are really happy to report that, that strategy has really worked and paid off. And so if you just compare and contrast on key metrics (offered here), hopefully you will get a sense for that.

Back in 2004, research represented about 57% of our total revenues. In 2011, we expected to be 69% of our total revenues. Very big change there, so we have managed to accelerate the growth of research and it’s a bigger component of the overall pie which obviously has a very favorable impact on the economics. All of the key operating metrics that underlie the research business have shown significant improvement. Since 2004 we have both doubled our research contract value and doubled the number of sales people who are actually out there selling research.

And it’s also translating into stellar operating results across the entire company. Our revenues have consistently grown and our margins have consistently expanded. And that gives us confidence around our long-term objectives. So we have been very clear about where we think we can go from a long-term perspective, we believe we can continue to grow our research business at a clip of 15% to 20% per year. And that’s while also investing growing the sales force at a clip of 15% to 20% per year.

We believe that we can continue to grow EBITDA at a faster rate than revenue. And our long-term objective is to improve the EBITDA margins by 50% to 150% basis points per year. And we have confidence around all that for a number of reasons. Number one, hopefully you get a sense, we’ve a really strong value proposition for our clients. In the relative scheme of things it’s a relatively low priced offering for the value we provide. Second, we have got this vast untapped market opportunity. We basically have $1 billion business in research and we think there is a $45 billion market opportunity.

Third, we have a really attractive business model. The fact that research continues to become a larger portion of our revenue, lets us take advantage of that recurring revenue, that subscription business, high renewal rates, negative working capital. And then lastly, we have had a really sound and consistent strategy and it’s been delivering those results and we have had a management team that’s been very focused and consistent as well. That is very focused on delivering continued double-digit revenue and double-digit earnings growth.

So thanks. With that, I will open it up to Dave for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

David Lewis - JPMorgan

Thanks, Craig. I think the first question I will start off with and then we will jump to the audience here is, as the company gets bigger and bigger, you decide -- you described your tremendous growth that the sales force has seen in the research segment for the past five years now. Can you touch on what changes the management team has implemented to accommodate that growth and it’s in particular that the research in terms of hiring process and in terms of managing the sales force of that size. What changes have been made there and how comfortable do you feel with continuing that pace in the research business?

Brian Shipman

So there are probably three things the company has really actively done in the last six or seven years. The first is to establish a very strong recruiting function and it’s probably taken us five or six years to a point where we feel very strong -- we are strongly positioned to do that. And so with that recruiting function been able to identify certain traits that make a good Gartner sales person. Just being a good sales person at another company or a vendor, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you will succeed at Gartner.

We have been able to say certain specific traits in candidates translate being into a good Gartner sales person. So the recruiting function I think is vastly improved in the last five or six years. Number two, I would say that we have put a training program in place that allows our new sales people to get up to speed more quickly. I would say the average training time is about four months. New sales people are additive pretty quickly thereafter and are average contributors within 12 to 14 months. So new hires are definitely getting up to speed more quickly than they used to.

And then finally we have put in place a management expansion plan that allows us to grow. So as we add, call it 15% to 20% more sales people every year, we also have 15% to 20% more managers every year. And so the procedures we put in place really I think all translate into one thing and that’s increased effectiveness of the people we are hiring.

David Lewis - JPMorgan

It’s great. Thanks, Brian. Ann?

Unidentified Speaker

I was wondering if you could elaborate on the 50 to 150 basis points to your margin expansion. Is the lower end a result of, as sales force growth is accelerating, you would kind of get the lower end or is that weaker macro and the higher end is that actually a deceleration in sales force cover. How do we think about that range, you guys came up with that? Thanks?

Craig Safian

So I think it’s probably a combination of factors that have to do with the pacing of sales force hiring and also the phasing of sales force hiring. And so we have the ability to turn on or turn off or accelerate or decelerate depending on the environment, depending on what the recruitment pipeline looks like, depending on what the macro environment looks like. And so if we are more evenly phased across the balance of the year in terms of hiring more front-end loaded, you might see us at the lower end of that range. And if it’s phased more evenly or back-end loaded for that particular year, obviously, less expanses in that period as well. I think it also would accommodate different ranges of performance on the events and the consulting business as well to some extent.

Unidentified Speaker

Thanks. And can I ask one more question?

Craig Safian

You have the microphone.

Unidentified Speaker

Okay. What are the qualities that make a good sales person? Maybe one or two, I am just curious. Thanks.

Craig Safian

So we have different, for lack of a better word, flavors of sales people. We have sales people that are focused on selling to mega accounts and they are typically more senior, know the industry very well, can have high high-lever, senior level relationships with C level people at large institutions. The characteristics there are going to be different from somebody who is an inside telesales person who is really focused on just growing. You know dialing and growing the business. So we have got different characteristics that we have identified for each of them.

Anecdotally -- and we haven’t really talked about what those are specifically -- anecdotally just because it’s interesting, with the inside sales channel we found, and the way we did this was by looking at successful Gartner reps. So the key to Brian’s point is not looking for what makes a successful rep, it what makes a successful Gartner rep. And what we found with our inside sales associates was, if you had some kind of extreme sport on your resume, like sky diving, it implied you were bit of a risk taker. And people who had that profile tended to be very very successful inside sales reps. So it’s things like that that we can actually cull out of resume scans that highlight the kind of candidates we want to find.

Unidentified Speaker

As far as client retention, I realize your wallet retention is very high and I think client is retention is 82%. So what's your -- where do you think that could go over say the next five years and what's the strategy to move that number up?

Craig Safian

It’s great question. So client retention, we have been hovering around our all time high. I think we did 83% in the first quarter. But we have been roughly 81% to 83% range for the last several quarters. We think that we can move that up over time. We would love to see that at 90%. As I think a lot of other people would love to see it there as well. The one good news thing I would say is that when you see that spread between client wallet, what it implies and what it means is that the churn is on lower spending clients. And that the higher spending clients stay with us, actually spend more on a year-over-year basis. So the churn is at the lower-end which obviously leaves a mark to an extent but it’s not horrible. But we would like to see -- we do think there are ways that we can actually move that up demonstrably over time.

Unidentified Speaker

And lastly, what are metrics that you monitor to see if a client might drop? I guess it’s one year contracts. Generally it’s been that for some other....

Craig Safian

Yeah. So the minimum contract is one year. We do have a decent amount of multi-year contracts. About 30% of our contracts actually fall into that 2 or 3 year period. The key point is, we don’t just sell the contract and then come back a year later and say, hey, are you ready to renew? It’s a consistent engagement that we have with a set of clients over the course of the year. And the early warning indicators for when a particular client is at risk or when those seat holders are engaged. And we have got loads and loads of ways to number one, identify when they are not engaged; and number two, more importantly, get them engaged when they are not engaged.

Unidentified Speaker

Thanks.

Unidentified Speaker

Could you talk about what the average sales force compensation package is when you bring a new person on? You said 12 to 18 months to get them ramped up, does that mean they are at the average of what most people bring in or what's kind of the pattern of how they progress and get to fully ramped at what an average sales person would do?

Craig Safian

So as Brian mentioned, we bring them onboard. They don’t become what we call quota liable, until they have been fully trained. And that’s typically two to four months. So in those first two to four months they are on a salary but they are not -- they don’t have a quota. After that they become fully quota liable. From a comp perspective they will look like an average rep. So average are dangerous but I will put out some rough averages for you.

For an average field rep, they are probably making $90,000 to $100,000 base and 50k to 60k on the variables side. So call it $150,000 all in. They make their full nut if they deliver 100% renewal on their book of business plush the growth quota that they get. Okay. And we give them pretty decent growth quotas on top of that. They make a lot of money or they have the potential to make a lot of money if they significantly exceeded that, renew the 100% of the CV and grow the CV number. From a first year person their quota will be pro-rated, obviously, but other than that they look and feel from a comp perspective just like a tenured sales rep.

Unidentified Speaker

So how long does it take them to be fully ramped in line, bringing in the same revenues as average guy?

Craig Safian

It’s a little tricky, but from a contract value growth perspective, it’s typically in that second or third quarter where they look just like a seasoned sales rep.

Unidentified Speaker

And then if I just look at your contract value divided by your sales reps, I think it’s around $900,000. So is that the average, basically the average.....

Craig Safian

So that’s where it gets a little tricky. So when we are adding so aggressively, it dilutes the contract value per sales rep. And that’s not really what's happening. And so what we tend to look at are two productivity metrics we look at contract value per sales rep, but we also look at what we call the net contract value increase or NCVI. Which is simply look at two snapshots, how much did the contract value grow and divide that by the average number of sales people and that’s essentially growth per sales person.

So we look at both metrics to determine whether or not we think we are doing well or not. And the comments I make about the individual and you’re two and you’re three, looking just like the seasoned sales rep, it’s more on the contract value increase side as opposed to the average CV per rep.

Unidentified Speaker

A question on your profitability and your margins. You spoke before about your annual objective and though taking a step back and you look at your margins now in the high teens. Can you talk about -- are there, what are -- are there structural impediments to actually get to 25% or 30%? Because the way you talked about your business as build one so many times incremental margins selling it all over the world. It feels like a 30% margin business not a 20% margin business.

Craig Safian

I am happy to as well. So it’s great question and a great point. Back in 2004-2005 our EBITDA margins were around 11% or 12%. And so when we started this journey with the new management team, one of the things we were focused on, obviously, was getting research back to growth but also expanding the margins over time because as you allude to, if the model is working we should be able to expand margins.

When we look at our research business and again that’s why I made the point earlier about research being a bigger component of the overall pie, that’s obviously helping to drive the economic results. We believe that, and we’ve actually managed the business this way, for every incremental dollar of research that we sell we can drop $0.70 at the gross contribution level. So said another way, we need to invest $0.30 on every incremental dollar in research analysts and service people for our CIO business, and service people to schedule increase because we want to make sure that all our clients continue to get world-class service.

If we are dropping $0.70 on every dollar on the research business and we are getting leverage out of our G&A infrastructure and we are increasing our sales force productivity over time, we can deliver that 50 to 150 basis point margin improvement per year. We haven’t talked about what our -- so back when we were 11% margin, we said we want to get to 20%. Now we are going to finish this year roughly at 19% and we are saying, okay, we got to roughly 20%, our new intermediate goal is to get into the mid-20s and then we will reassess. So we think over the intermediate timeframe we can get back to the mid-20s. Then we will step back and reassess and we will have the conversation, can we keep going. It doesn’t feel like there are structural impediments to hold us back but we won't know until we really get there.

Unidentified Speaker

As a follow up to that question. If you look at the mature sales people and you look at their contract value and then you look at what you pay them, what percent of the contract value are you paying? Let’s say I am super successful and I have $1.5 million book, what's my take home. Thanks?

Craig Safian

So we -- probably the right way to look at that is, what is the overall cost to sale. And while we don’t break it out specifically on the P&L, our SG&A number is around 43% all in and we’ve said roughly two thirds of that is the selling and marketing piece. Marketing is not a huge piece of it. So you can kind of intuit from that what the average cost per CV dollar is. And that was just to clarify that cost is all in including travel, management, infrastructure, operations, etcetera.

Unidentified Speaker

You’ve made some changes on the consulting side of the business. I believe gotten (ten) managers, a project manager. You’re making major changes on the consulting sides. So what do you hope to accomplish with that?

Craig Safian

It’s a great question. So when we look at our consulting business which is roughly $300 million in revenues, one of the things we didn’t have which many well run professional management or consultancies of scale have, was a partner level capability. And the partner level capability at McKinsey or Booz or someone like that is responsible for driving the client relationships for selling the engagements, for delivering the engagements and then for managing and maintaining the relationship on an ongoing basis so that they can continue to generate recurring revenue.

We didn’t have that capability. And so since 2006, we have been investing and scaling up that capability because we believe that as we scale that capability, we can actually drive better visibility, better consistency, better level of recurring revenues over time. At the same time we’ve been scaling up that managing partner capability. The other things we have been doing is focusing our prospecting on the clients with the largest IT budgets.

So, said in other way, our consultants are fishing in the largest ponds. And that’s a change for us as well. If you’ve followed us for a while, we used to do consulting around the world. We exited our Asia Pacific consulting business back in 2005 because the view was, we couldn’t get it to scale. What we have been doing over the last couple of years is two things really. Driving that managing partner investments, so scaling from zero to where we are today and I would say we are about 50% to two thirds of the way through the journey of having a fully stood up managing partner capability.

And then we have also been focusing on driving that revenue our of a targeted set of accounts that have the largest IT budgets.

Brian Shipman

And another derivate of that is that our research sales people can focus 100% of their time on selling our research products. Previously, the consulting practice was part of their quota as well. So they had to split time selling research and consulting and so this transition will allow our sales force to focus of 100% of their time.

Craig Safian

There will still be a segment that have consulting quota but it will be less and less a percent of the population which to Brian’s point, frees them up to focus on growing the research business which just has significantly better economics.

Unidentified Speaker

And then lastly on the research contract value. How much of that’s left on the legacy products which I believe is $10,000 per CV and then you’re roll based roughly around 20. So how much there is left in....?

Craig Safian

Yeah, we have worked our way pretty well through the bulk of the legacy contract value. So it represents less than 10% of total CV at this point.

Unidentified Speaker

One quick one in here. I think the average organization has four or four subscriptions -- four to five recent subscriptions. What's the highest? It’s question number one. And then you alluded to it before, companies outsourcing more and more. Can you just provide anecdotal example? Anecdotal example of that or any trends there where you are seeing big organizations, long timer customers, significantly ramp up because of perhaps destructive change right now or?

Craig Safian

So on the average contract value. An average client today spends about $85,000 with us. And that can be -- any mix seats. It could be one CIO seat, it could before IT leader seats, it could be any mix of things. But on average it’s by three to five in sols from a seat-based perspective. Our best clients as we have talked about, represent a tiny proportion of our overall revenue so there is really no one client that represents a huge amount of revenue. Our best clients I would say is -- our best clients we have multiple CIOs. As clients we have multiple levels of their direct reports and then we have Burton or what we now call IT One installed as well.

So our best clients are the ones where we can actually sell from the top down across on entire portfolio across a wide of swath of the overall IT organization. And your second question I can't remember.

Unidentified Speaker

The second question is just disruptive change driving big increases. You have seen that in any customers or in any segment of products?

Craig Safian

No. I mean the good news for us, as we look at the last few quarters of results is the growth has been pretty broad based. And so if you look at by client size, by vertical industry, by geography, the results on a year-over-year basis are kind of clustered around the mean which is 15%. So, yeah, there are a few that are above the mean and yeah there are a few that are below. But it’s a pretty tight cluster around the mean. So we have been seeing great growth in a broad-based way. I think on a disruptive technology element, every year every cycle there are new disruptive technologies. It just so happens that maybe cloud and maybe social are getting more headlines today. But for every cloud and for every social there is another big disruptive trends that CIOs and their teams are dealing with on an year-over-year basis.

Unidentified Speaker

So let's say you get to $20 billion in revenues and you have got half your addressable market penetrated. How would the research model change? I mean you would have so many more seat and I mean these are really that much leveraged in an analyst so you have got some like cloud computing genius over there, I mean that you can't realistically service that many clients at the same level. So would you have to like have specialized people that help him or, I mean I see how they scale in the intermediate term but long-term if you really got to this penetration levels seems like you would have to change the research model a little bit.

Craig Safian

It sounds like a really high class problem to have. But, I guess, the way I would answer that is when we talk about the 70% incremental flow through, that allows for us being able to add analysts where we need to add analysts. Add service people where we need to service people. If we got to that scale, could it be 68% or 72%, maybe to fund everything. But I’ll cross my fingers and we will deal with that problem when we hit $20 billion, I guess.

Unidentified Speaker

I’ll squeeze in one more here. What's the opportunity for -- the market opportunity for CIOs? Is it consistent with the overall tech market opportunity and is the CIO customer, I mean how much more a premium customer do they tend to be versus other customers?

Craig Safian

So the CIO market is a large one for us obviously in the multi-billion dollar range. And our penetration there might be slightly better than it is in some of the other markets but it’s like we are 1% or 2% penetrated and there is still lots of room to go. I think we have got a product architecture and a product portfolio that caters to different size and different types of CIOs. So if you are the CIO, and I don’t know if he is listening at JPMorgan Chase, we have a product that’s architected for you. Which is a very high price, very premium product that carries all the amenities that you would associate with servicing a CIO of that sized enterprise.

At the same time we had CIO products that are more geared towards and architected towards mid-market CIOs. Very different products, very different focuses, very different service models. And our product portfolio from top to bottom kind of reflects. We have got big company products that are (hitouch) but again fit within that incremental margin we talked about. And then we have got reference only type products for IT executives and IT workforce in small enterprises.

David Lewis - JPMorgan

Any more. Any more questions?

Unidentified Speaker

Just a question on the consulting business. Why your margin is so much lower? You are paying the consultant to talk to as well, is that part of the (inaudible)?

Craig Safian

So on the consulting business it’s standard labor based consulting model. And we have a separate consulting force from the analyst force. So our analysts write research and handle enquiries which are 30 to 45 minute phone calls, and occasionally do a day pseudo-consulting engagement. And that’s kind of buried in the overall research margins. Our consulting business is predominantly a labor based -- it’s fixed fee but it’s a labor based consulting model.

Unidentified Speaker

I thought the, I want to add that (inaudible) calls are (inaudible) consulting?

Craig Safian

Those are analysts actually. You are talking to your analysts.

David Lewis - JPMorgan

Okay. Well, we’ll wrap it up. Brian, Craig, thanks a lot for joining us and thanks for attending.

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